Volumetric erosion is regarded as a significant index for studying the erosion process of electrical switching contacts. Three-dimensional (3-D) surface measurement techniques provide an approach to investigate the geometric characteristics and volumetric erosion of electrical contacts. This paper presents a concrete data-processing procedure for evaluating volumetric erosion of spherical electrical contacts from 3-D surface measurement data using the defect removal method (DRM). The DRM outlined by McBride is an algorithm for evaluating the underlying form (prior to erosion) parameters of the surfaces with localized erosion and allowing the erosion characteristics themselves to be isolated. In this paper, a number of spherical electrical contacts that had undergone various electrical operations were measured using a 3-D surface profiler, the underlying form parameters of the eroded contacts were evaluated using the DRM, and then the volumetric erosions were isolated and calculated. The analysis of the correlations between the volumetric erosion and the number of switching cycles of electrical operation that the contacts had undergone showed a more accurate and reliable volumetric erosion evaluation using the DRM than that without using the DRM
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